The Art of Real Talk

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Can we talk about real talk? I’m fairly sure that I’ve mentioned these two words at least 3.7 million times. It’s my first language, after all! But a quick rundown helps us all figure out what’s up.

At it’s core, Real talk (n.)  is the art of straight up communication. It’s a fast departure from linguistic eloquence, guarded pretenses, and even/often politeness too. It falls somewhere at the crossroads between forthright honesty x uninhibited authenticity.  Friends are a necessity of this situation. Because duh.

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All this to say that real talk is clutch but ironically rare. Our day-to-day words are forever in masquerade. They ensure that we aren’t too blunt, too clueless, too politically incorrect, too judged, too “basic,” too in danger of hurting others’ feelings, too frivolous, too awwwwwwwkwaaaard.

It’s nothing short of A WHOLE LOT to consider, no? Real talk is our respite from it all. It’s our dance-like-nobody’s-watching form of conversation!

Side note: Donuts are a prerequisite of this discussion. That’s just life on the real….because Sunday // because September. 

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So let’s do this dance! I’ve been thinking about illusions lately. What you see vs. what you get.

The above photos of my desk, friends, and food are an honest illusion. It’s my admission to you that behind every pretty picture is a pajama-clad HOT MESS. (That’s me!) Perspective, please–here’s what’s hanging out in my thoughts:

  1. Social media is a poignant example. We’ve put ourselves on constant camera, on mic, on tape. Oy vey, dude! Selective portrayal has become a really unreal phenomenon.  These thoughts of a millenial (not me) on social media bubbled up from my bookmarks, see: A 20-something’s Take on Social Media. 
  2. Beauty intrigues me. And I still haven’t quite figured out whether to consider makeup a help or hindrance to that. This Ted Talk by a makeup artist adds a few thoughts to the equation. Because we’re in the business of real talk: I honestly do wonder if a wild streak of vanity is responsible for my curiosity.
  3. Let’s breakdown the why of FUCK YES. A good chuckle and an even better thought piece. It’s a superb argument for why the grey area isn’t really so illusory. Relationships happen to be the topic, but I’d argue that it applies to this whole dang shabang we call life.
  4. I’ve taken precisely 2 ballet classes in my life. And dear god, it may’ve been the definition of comedy. But the NYC Ballet Company surprised me with this intersection of tragedy and art. Illusion of 9/11 rebirth in the best way. Not just for the dance-inclined. Give ‘er a watch (or two)!
  5. Vanity Fair’s announcement of The New Establishment 2014 felt funky. Or I didn’t know how to feel about it? Two realizations: the list is reeeeeeeal heavy on tech and reeeeeeeal light on women.
  6. Joy, whose corner of the Internet I absolutely love, reposted “Eating: A Manifesto.” Hey ladies & gents! It’s important. Really, really important. Skinny is a weighty subject and an even weightier illusion. But the truth is, guilty doesn’t look good on anybody. Let it go; let it flow.

In other news, I haven’t even touched my homework. But well…I’m afraid that the future will have to wait. I’ve been too busy dancing like the 2:27pm still-pajama-clad crazy fool that I currently am. Whoa nelly. This confession is upfront, unapologetic, and just a tad awkkkkwarrrrd.

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Best of all though, it’s the art of straight up communication–real talk in its finest form. :)

love & other hugs,

l

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The State of September

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Can we admit that we’re totally doggie paddling through September? I can’t find a #2 pencil to save my life. Chipotle is turning into a food group. Oops-I-did-it-again 3am bedtimes are, well, oops. And then there’s this maniac muffin bender.

I mean, if honesty is the best policy, let’s just throw it aaaallllll out there. Really, I’m not above it.

This is the State of September. Reporting live from Senioritis-ville, USA.

I hope this pops over to greet you on a mellow Wednesday. If you’re reading this, consider us friends. Because we can! If you’re reading this, I hope you give a holler. That you tell me what’s up and give me the lowdown.

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I might call you after this, or you might send a message using what many’a Mom/Dad keep calling “that texting thing.” They might send it in ALL CAPS or with 10 pictures of Uncle Hank’s new goldfish or with their signature at the end “-Mom / -Dad.” Just in case you forgot it was them.

Okay, so we may all be doggie paddling. Mom/Dad included.

Embrace this hot mess of a mid-week night’s dream. Tell me about yours.

Here’s mine:

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A year ago I was in France. And now, I’m officially a French minor. Which may or may not be translated as a sign to future people-who-care that I speak “croissant” fluently. It’s a fact, but I still Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

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Nomad is fast becoming my middle name. I’ve moved back and forth 14 times in the past 3 years. Exploring is my nirvana! But being in a constant state of on-the-go makes permanence of place feel elusive. Everywhere is new and exciting but never truly yours. After 7 years, I finally made a room my own.

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It’s not so much defined by place as it is by the essentials – the salt and pepper of my life. Ya know what’s a mind-bender? Figuring out what your personality would look like if boiled down to a design. Mine is minimalist, green and verdant. Vaguely reminiscent of the borderline between Earth and ocean. Like the outdoors…but indoors.

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• You know by now that the Farmers’ Market is my happy place. Yo, wanna know a secret? Food-loving as I may be, it’s not the food that gets me. It’s the universal language behind it. Do you see those smiles on other people’s faces? That’s why I’m smiling.

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• My voice straight PEACED out this weekend. Losing my voice is aggravating and infuriating and inefficient…but oddly welcome.

Real talk: Losing your voice may very well be the universe’s clue to shut up and listen. Because that’s how the cookie crumbles. Life is lived and played both silly and reckless. Jumping into traditions and throwing in a come-to-Jesus every now and then for good measure.

• I’m hit by a craving of real intellectual engagement. That’s not a snub to Georgetown, as this article might suggest. It’s just me…doing me. I’m considering learning Spanish via Duolingo. And maybe a crash course in coding via Code Academy too. Heyo!

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• Songs? Song for Zula (Phosphorescent) and this end-of-summer mixtape

•  I’m reading Me Before You. (Kindle is a gamechanger!) The book reminds me of this. Because scary as death appears, it reminds us how to live.

Wednesday just got 10 feet deeper. Just keep swimming?

I’ll be the girl rightttttt over thereeee. You know — the one doggie paddling right there with you.

love & other hugs,
l

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So This is Summer & “The Future”

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I’m definitely maybe head over heels for August.

Seriously, I’m over here square dancing with the dog days of summer, while the rest of the folks in the US are egging on their air conditioner with chants of “DOWN WITH THE HUMIDITY.”

Or so I’m told.

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We can agree to disagree on the AC.

But I’m sure we can all agree on the wonders of summer’s finale…starring shorts, watermelon slices, barbecues (which we all know is really spelled bbq), beach trips, iced coffee with too much cream, iced tea with too much goodness (…not), lazy evenings, open windows, red sangria, iiiiiiiceeeee creeeeeammmmm, warm nights, bonfires, and sunshine every which way.

Plus, just hanging out! Hanging out, tuning in, and taking five like we do so well.

See, this is why we’re friends.

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Speaking of which, hey friends! Let’s hang.

I’m staring at that funny little in-between square in the face again. But this time it feels welcome, maybe even cordial.

It’s been less than one week since I left San Francisco & Google, and it’s less than one week until I start my senior year at Georgetown.

Whoa there – it’s a LIFE SANDWICH! With a whole lot of good stuff smushed in between two major contenders.

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Suddenly, everybody seems to want to know about those two major contenders.

Every conversation is peppered with questions about what happened and what’s going to happen. About living in San Francisco, about Google, about senior year, and about “the future” beyond.

Pause: “The future” should be in obligatory air quotes at all times.

You feel me? I’m talking ’bout those quotes where you unceremoniously wiggle your fingers mid-air to demonstrate just how ludicrous something is. Totally that kind!

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Long story short: life is good. Google was a different kind of great; home is what the doctor ordered; and my final year at Georgetown, I imagine, will be nothing short of swell.

Summer in the Bay and a second internship at Google surprised me. Sure, there were still all the crazy Security shenanigans, Google Glass demos, five star food, coffee had, etc.

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But if you were hanging ’round these parts for this post, you know that this summer was a marked changed from last. It was a gamechanger plus two…but in a completely new way. Ya dig?

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I lived in the Mission district on Dolores Park with two amazing roommates, A and N. I hustled erryday with A, trekked to Sonoma wine country with N, dinner’d with L, enjoyed burritos with M.

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I ventured to the Golden Gate Bridge, hiked Lands End, brunched with unapologetic enthusiasm, survived Outside Lands with P and just started figuring it out. San Francisco is wonky, but then again, so are we.

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I settled into a groove with home, work, and people, straddling the permanence of routine and the transience of summer. Does that mean we’re ‘big kids’ now? I’m into it.

Roomie and resident baller, A, aptly coined the phrase “learning to adult”© to represent this bizarre midline between straight up kiddo and grown up. It’s an education in its own right. And a sincere reminder that good friends are really the cure-all. Even and especially when your tenacity is down for the count.

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Meanwhile, home has been about the simple things. Friends who’ve been there since the diaper days, and family who can accept that a pound of blueberries is not safe around me.

Read between the lines: I’ve assumed a nonstop faceplant on the beach and belly flop position in the waves. I’m grappling to remember the last time I wore real-people-clothes (not bathing suits or pajamas). And the couch and I are a little too friendly. Hubba hubba.

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That’s the TL;DR version. I hope you’re doing your thang and doing it well. That you’re learning to adult (aren’t we all?) and learning it well. That you, like me, are not trading these last few sips of summer for too much of “the future.”

Because we got this. And let’s not forget: It’s all in “air quotes” anyway.

love & other hugs,
L

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Best Kept Simple

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Let’s talk bold decisions.

Like the fact that I’ve successfully learned to bike with no hands…confessions of a multi-tasking nomad. Or the fact that pizza has been the primary food group of exactly 4 out of 6 of my last meals. Or the fact that I bought the kind of dress that means BUSINESS, knowing full well this pizza situation.

Because heck yes, we can. Nobody said we couldn’t; I said we could.

(How can you argue with something like that? Answer: Ya can’t.)

That’s my life update in a nut shell. What’s yours?

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Let’s put real life on hold for a hot second.

Don’t look at me like that. Rules be damned! Especially those involving pizza.

My hair is long and summer-streaked, flushed with the same sunshine that is presently high-five’ing my dimples. These last few days caught me by surprise–smack dab in the middle of July’s bizness. We weekend’d…oh yes we did.

We did Saturday right: strolling hand-in-hand with the kind of people that you hope never leave and the kind of scenery that you hope never ends. We celebrated a birthday three times…because once just isn’t enough. Trouble. Nothing but trouble.

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And of course, we Sunday’d. The fun-sies! The necessities! All of the above.

We coffee’d and parked ourselves in the park (Dolores) like a lazy day demands.  Chatted and chilled and bought that crazy impulse buy. And we cleaned our bed sheets. Because freeessshhh is funky fresh. (Who knew learning-to-adult smells like spring flowers?)

Fist pump. Hip bump. It’s all good.

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You’re totally caught off guard by this girl talking.

Here’s the thing though: I know ambition fancies the future, not the right-this-hot-second. Granted, I’m a thinker and an occasional over-thinker. A dreamer and a frequent over-dreamer. But today, I have no interest in being either.

I’m feeling that familiar smile hanging around my lips, and for once, I’m just content to say that’s enough. To be with the people responsible for that very smile. To laugh at and with the beloved bozos I call friends. To traipse around this wild and weird city.

And to embrace that right now, it’s all best kept simple.

LC

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The Things You Should Know About a Summer in San Francisco

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Someone asked me yesterday about how often I blog and the last time I had. I turned a little rosy and sheepish, like a kid that just got caught swiping cake batter from the bowl.

(me..totally me)

Truth be told, writing is not something I like to do on a schedule or on-demand. Back in the days of “legit” blogging, I did just that. And let me tell you, it usually sucks more than an overenthusiastic informercial vacuum. Sure, I do write formally all the time. But haven’t we determined that janky is far more fitting for me?

‘Definitely maybe’ is my trademark tune. Barefoot hoppin & beach boppin are my normal. And Casual Friday is really every day on my calendar. Yeah dude! is the answer. It really is.

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So let’s talk. Just casual–you and me.

First you, then me. Because guests first, always duh.

How are you? This is always my first question to a person. Authentic is timeless. And while Instagram may welcome filters, conversation is a different ballgame. It matters to me that real talk is just that. Because I hope we mean what we say! I truly do.

Me?

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This summer has been rad with a capital R. But so incredibly different than I would’ve guessed. Gimme a sec to explain.

Last summer was crazy to the fullest extent, but it taught me more about myself than I ever could have imagined. It was the perfect collision of bold intention and spontaneous difference that made for an unforgettable shabang and story.

In coming back to the Bay this summer, I’m grateful for the knowledge I have under my belt. Armed with good experience + bad jokes, I’m finding that I have a guiding trajectory and understanding of “how stuff works.”

Past experiences allow you to dive deep and fast, without the worry that you won’t know how to breathe when you plunge underwater.

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But while the past can be a propeller, it can also be an anchor too. If you’ve never experienced something before, it’s new and exciting. But if you experience something twice, it’s not immediately new and exciting the second time. It’s just “different.”

Not “bad-different.” Just a sophomore adjustment that requires unlearning some of what you know to allow new experience to breathe in.

It’s easy to reminisce about X, to expect Y, to compare Z. But at the end of the day, I’m learning that those actions are positive only if they help, not hinder, moving forward. Real talk  — that’s a tough thing to do.

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On San Francisco

San Francisco is a fickle love. Mark Twain wasn’t kidding when he said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. And it’s no joke that my feelings about this city are quite akin to the weather.

One day, San Francisco has clear blue skies and abundant sunshine, and the next, it’s chilly fog with moody winds abound. One day, I find myself loving San Francisco’s culture of hills, startups, and laid-back living.

The next, I’m dreaming about the fast-paced frenzy of New York and the challenge of big skyscrapers and even bigger dreams.

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This city is built upon polar opposites–clouds on top of sun; tech 20 somethings, homeless, and hipsters;  swanky bars and hole-in-the-wall taquerias.

It’s easy to think in versus, but I’m learning to give up comparison in favor of exploration. And in doing so, I’m starting to understand the shrouded in-between of Chapter One-and-a-Half. I’ve done my fair share of unintentionally getting lost but would be lying if I said it wasn’t with the intention of finding my own way here.

Sometimes that means solo city wandering, and other times that means Sunday mornings with pals. However, it always means pancakes thankyouverymuch.

Work at Google is equally interesting. Twice the experience, double the curiosity!

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As a two-time intern, I’m forever grateful for the experience I have under my belt. It guides trajectory and provides a baseline for workflow. At the same time, a second summer presents the challenge of reinvention. Faced with the comforts of complacency, it’s far too tempting to carry on with precedent.

But aaaaain’t nobody got time for that! Let’s all hope that’s considered a wise proverb someday. Royalty checks are more than welcome.

Slowly but surely, we’re finding new adventures, even the second-time around. Today, tomorrow, but certainly not yesterday.

Because good gracious, we know I’m not one to flirt with a safe bet.

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So this is summer as a I see it. We’re singing new tunes (even if it’s in the shower…)  and dancing like nobody’s watching (even if it’s nowhere near the caliber of Beyonce).

We’re drinking bottles of bubbly. Because we’re poppin’, and that’s our prerogative. We’re letting go of the idea that we’re not old enough or not bold enough. And we’re kicking sass and taking names.

And you know the best thing about it?

It’s just casual — you and me.

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Chapter One & A Half: Figuring It Out

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I’ve been fondly referring to the past two weeks at home as “Chapter One & A Half: My Life as a Hermit.”

Back-cover summary: A girl walks into a bar…….turns 21, and then leaves to become a hermit. Catchy, right?

In all truth, I’ve spent the last two weeks doing, well...just doing “me.”

For those wondering, that’s somewhere between more than nothing and not much of anything. Having decided pajamas and bathing suits are the only two forms of real clothing, I’ve declared a state of modest indecency. And I’m completely and utterly okay with it.

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Life update in a nutshell? I made it through finals (read: the Dark Ages) and tasted just a smidge of D.C. summer before movin’ on and movin’ out. Midwest, ho! I spent a week in Indiana, marked first by dog days and life talks with A and then a lovely lunch with V and fiancé. The end of the week concluded with a sibling reunion of brotherly love, not to mention a scary glimpse at next year’s graduation.

Homeward bound, with love! And so the hermit life began.

Since coming home, there’s been a fair shake of straight chillin’. Life here is real and necessary and really necessary. It’s far from the buzzing eventfulness you might normally hear from me. Real life happens at a slower, steadier pace – beauty without the “glamour” of busy, shall we say. But keepin’ it real is rule #1. Onwards!

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I’ve taken a moment to just hit the stop key on life. I’m letting my hair whip in the wind of Pacific Coast Highway, as I sing loudly and egregiously out-of-tune to whatever is on the radio. Windows down, music up. Yoga has been a rewind and reset switch. Beaching has been the play button. I’ve spent hours with AL doing major catchup and days on the sand with AT. Somewhere in the mix, I’ve found my way to Los Angeles with SC to visit friends C, M, and P at UCLA and Pasadena.

Meanwhile…
Watchin': Breaking Bad. I’m late to the party. And nobody was surprised ever.
Chillin’ to the sound of: this summery house beat
Dancin’ like nobody’s watching to:  Equal parts Fitz and Foster
Readin': Nada enchilada. Book recommendations, anyone? Please?

Thinkin’ bout: Chapter One & A Half

I keep talking about this subject. Some of you are intrigued. Most of you are thinking, “Please don’t make me do math.”

It’s Monday. Math be gone! We’re keeping banter light and refreshing. Just like the lemonade/iced tea/sangria you’re drinking.

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So what is this Chapter One & A Half?

Let’s call it the unmarked middle ground. It’s found roughly at the intersection of Chapter 1: Yo, I’m a kid (ft. Nintendo 64 & Lunchables, middle school…ugh, stubborn teenagedom, and red solo cup = premium dishware?) and Chapter 2: Dear world, I’m a grown-up (ft. everything else). 

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Since finishing this past semester at Georgetown, I’ve found myself thinking about uncertainty. This conversation about in-betweens comes in light of life talks with friends, many of whom just graduated from college.  With 20ish years under our belts, we’re increasingly asked, “So, what are you going to do with your life?”

It’s like a gameshow question! Seemingly impossible to answer. Bound to make your brain sweat a little. And while “I don’t know” isn’t a wrong answer, it may very well put you in double jeopardy.

Some of us have a good answer, or something that sounds a lot like one. Others of us have become masters at changing the subject.

Weather? Amanda Bynes’ meltdowns. Sports!! Happy hour?! Anything will do.

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Uncertainty is at the core of this mid-chapter crisis. Destination without direction (like whoa).

It’s the equal but opposite pull in two directions that causes one to feel as if they’re straddling the present and future…one foot in and one foot out. Especially at this age, it’s easy to feel like our heads are in the clouds, while our feet are tied to the ground. For newly graduated friends, it may be the idea of career or family or financial security or evolving relationships.

For me, it stems from these strange two weeks between Spring and Summer. These jam-packed three months of interning at Google between junior and senior year in D.C.. This exciting fourth year of Georgetown between college and real life.

Simply put, Chapter One & A Half is the uncertainty and discomfort that comes with not knowing what comes next.  For those who have had a relatively certain path until now, this idea of not knowing is terrifying. It goes against everything we know.

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Perhaps though, that’s the point. Chapter One & A Half is not about knowing. It’s about figuring it out. What a life this would be if we knew everything already? If we chose to forego the exploring and the adventuring. And the trying and the failing and the everything-in-between that is embodied by figuring it out.

As my dear friend C joked:

“Figuring out is not optional. That’s why we do it.”

So as I write this Monday, I’m staring uncertainty squarely in the face. It reminds me, and hopefully you too, that we grow as people at the brink of our (dis)comfort zone. Here, we realize how the world looks brighter after we’ve opened closed eyes. Somehow, not seeing enables us to see better. It doesn’t change how clear something is, but it may change how clearly we can see it.

And as for certainty? Well, that’s only half of it.

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June 2, 2014 · 8:14 pm

The Best Part About Being 21

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You’re totally expecting me to say champagne brunch.

It’s tempting, I know. Breakfast and bubbly drinks are my weakness; guilty as charged.

But no siree. This birthday business has nothing to do with gourmet dinners, raging parties, or bomb diggity surprise shindigs. It’s not that those things aren’t awesome in their own right. In fact, it just so happens that I specialize in planning events that are sixty shades of crazy.

(Tahoe or H’s birthday at Cafe Japone, anyone?)

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I digress. I’ve had two truly outstanding birthdays in my life. Equal parts essential and touching. Sorta ridiculous. Mainly batshiz-cray.

On my 14th birthday, my best friends AT and AL planned a surprise birthday party at a local restaurant. I had NO idea. We’re talking ground zero cluelessness. And to say I was surprised would be a complete understatement. I was on the doorstep of disbelief.

It was then that I experienced one of the strangest phenomenons of my life: I was so taken aback by the surprise that I started crying uncontrollably (out of happiness). I didn’t even know that was possible. In fact, I rarely cry, but on that day, you would’ve thought the damn Hoover Dam itself had sprung a leak.

For my 21st birthday this year, I told my friends that I didn’t want a surprise. Nobody (including me) ever really feels like a big to-do when even bigger exams are around the corner. Finals are a party pooper. It’s lame, but it’s logic.

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The thing about logic though? Birthdays have this bonkers weird “exception” clause, wherein logic doesn’t apply. True to form, my friends pulled off an entire birthday week–complete with things far above what I asked and beyond what I expected. There was a surprise dinner here, a ridiculous “employee appreciation” here, and of course, an infamous night at Georgetown’s famous bar, here. There were kind wishes from coworkers, spaghetti (squash) + wine with A, hugs from P & Y, the best convo with S, and sweet little thangs from so many people near and far.

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Last night, there was a simple and low-key birthday evening at home with my favorite food made by L, H, and P.  (PIZZZZZZZZZZZA. Oh, you thought I was fancy? Think again.)

And finally, there was this video below, which was everything I wanted in the world for my birthday. And much, much more.

Featuring: friends & family from Cape Town, Paris, Singapore/New York, the Great Wall of China, Mississippi, Philly (Penn), Indiana, New Haven (Yale)/New York, Atlanta (Emory), and of course, home sweet home in California.

Video clips start at 3:00. And I highly recommend that you at least watch the end, beginning at 8:00 to see my parents’ crazy skit.

But really, everything about this video is pure, cheesy gold. It’s awkward and hilarious. And to me, it’s absolutely perfect.

The best part about being 21 is not the happy hours or the champagne brunches, the plans or the parties, the dessert or the dance floor. It’s really dang simple.

To love and be loved is the greatest gift of all. I know that’s some straight cheddah, but on your birthday, it’s all gouda. So thank you–all of you. For everything.

As for the waterworks?

Yeah, that damn Hoover dam seems to be leaking yet again.

With love & other hugs,
L

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